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Book Review: "Starting Sensory Therapy" by Bonnie Arnwine

Children with sensory needs tend to have two reactions to stimuli. Either they can't get enough of a particular form of stimuli or even the slightest form of stimuli causes them to scream on contact.

Often children with sensory issues have both reactions - and often to similar types of stimuli. For example, a child who can't stand the touch of a certain type of fabric may excessively crave the touch of a teddy bear made from a different fabric.

Sensory exercises play a critical role in helping these children adjust to stimulii and can usually reduce or even remove sensory issues.

From the outside, "Starting Sensory Therapy" looks like a textbook on the subject. It's not. The cover and title of this book are very misleading.

This book is a collection of over a hundred different activities to stimulate the senses of children with sensory difficulties.

The activities are loosely grouped by the sense they stimulate; for example there are sections on visual, auditory, smell, tactile and taste senses. The book doesn't stop at "the five senses" though and also contains chapters on gross and fine motor movement.

The activites themselves are in sub-groups, such as "tissue paper fun", "balloon fun" or "No-Cook Cooking" within each chapter and the book has a good index too. All in all, it's a very well laid out book.

Each activity starts off with a list of what you'll need and then provides a brief description of how to do it. The activities usually also include ideas on how they could be extended.

The activities are suitable for children of various ages, from babyhood right through to the very early teens and they're suitable for individuals or groups. My wife has taken a lot the ideas in this book to Joey scouts this term, so they're all very adaptable and useful - even when children don't have sensory issues.

The activities include; ice cream making, play dough making, rocket tag with torches, singing-games like "the wheels on the bus", making a bird feeder, paper mache, making shaving cream paint, playing "hamburger", marshmallow sculptures, making musical instruments and much more.

The only gripe (apart from the cover and title) that I've got with this book is that it uses some brand names. For example, there were several references to "Graham Crackers" which we don't have in Australia. I had to look them up on the internet just to figure out what type of biscuit they were. The book could probably benefit from with a glossary with pictures to explain what some of these items are.

Other than that, it's a great book which parents, teachers and community workers will get a lot of benefit from.

"Starting Sensory Therapy" by Bonnie Arnwine is available from Future Horizons and Amazon.

Honesty Clause: I was provided with a review copy of this book free of charge


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